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iOS 17 NameDrop privacy scare: What you need to know


November 28, 2023

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iOS 17 NameDrop privacy scare: What you need to know

What's happened?

Warnings are spreading on social media about a new way for iPhone users to quickly share their contact information with others.

For instance, Forbes is reporting that police departments across America have been spreading a warning, telling users to disable a feature called "NameDrop"

What's NameDrop?

NameDrop is a new feature that was introduced to iOS 17 in September.  All you need to do is tap your iPhone against the top of someone else's iPhone running iOS 17.

You can see NameDrop in action in this YouTube video from Apple.

I can see how that's easier than sharing business cards, or texting your contact details to someone. What are the police saying?

The message that some police forces and news outlets have shared online warns parents to change the settings on their kids' iPhones, suggesting that they are particularly in danger.

The wording of the warnings can vary. Here's one of them, which warns that just holding two phones close to each other allows contact details to be stolen via NameDrop.

So, the fear is that a stranger could steal your contact information even if you don't want them to?

Right. But Apple actually lets you choose what information you share with other people - whether you want to share your contact details or only receive the other person's contact details.

In other words, just tapping two iPhones together doesn't share your contact information?

Correct.  You also need to confirm your desire to share your details via NameDrop with the other person.

Okay, but surely a stranger could still put their iPhone next to yours and press the button on your iPhone to share their contact details?

Yes, they could... if you have not taken proper care over the security of your iPhone by leaving it unlocked, and don't notice them pressing buttons on your phone's screen.

Oh, so they would have to have unlocked my iPhone with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode?

Yup.  And if you've been careless enough to have left your iPhone unattended and unlocked so a stranger can meddle with it, there's all kinds of trouble they could cause. Stealing your contact information may be the very least of your worries.

Got it.  But I still don't have a need for NameDrop. How do I turn the feature off?

Go into Settings > General > Airdrop and disable the "Bringing Devices Together" option.




Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s.

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